Project Management

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Introduction

According to Project Management Institute (PMI) a project is any work that happens only once, has a clear beginning and an end, and is intended to create a unique product or knowledge. It ma involve only one person or thousands. It may last several days or many years. It may be undertaken by a single organization or an alliance of several stakeholders.

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end (usually time-constrained, and often constrained by funding or deliverables), undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value.

The temporary nature of projects stands in contrast with business as usual or operations which are repetitive permanent or semi-permanent functional activities to produce products or services. In practice, the management of these two systems is often quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills and management strategies. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Characteristics of successful projects

It should have clear objectives-the most successful projects always have well defined objectives from the outset.

A good project plan-this enables everyone involved to understand and perform their part in the project, it shows who is responsible for what, and estimates how much money, people, equipment and time will be required to complete the project. It also serves as a monitoring tool, allowing you to take early actions if things go wrong.

Communication-A project is a collaborative effort between all the individuals and organizations involved. They all need to work together to maintain effective and continual communication between the parties.

A controlled scope- it is common that numerous issues will come up throughout the project and not all that contribute to the overall objectives. It is vital to stay focused on the priority issues.

Stakeholder’s support-projects generally involve several stakeholders who invest their time and resources in the project. For this reason it is important to maintain their support throughout the life of the project up to it completion in order to meet the set goals.

Project managers

 According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, a project manager is the person accountable for accomplishing the stated project objectives. Key project management responsibilities include creating clear and attainable project objectives, building the project requirements, and managing the triple constraint for projects, which is cost, time, and scope.

A project manager is often a client representative and has to determine and implement the exact needs of the client, based on knowledge of the firm they are representing. The ability to adapt to the various internal procedures of the contracting party, and to form close links with the nominated representatives, is essential in ensuring that the key issues of cost, time, quality and above all, client satisfaction, can be realized.

Cleland and king (1993) suggest that the managers of a complex project should possess the following attributes:

Knowledge of technology in ration to project products

An understanding of the concept of project management

Interpersonal styles to get thing done

Ability to see the project as an open system and understand the external and internal interactions

Understand the people and the social context in which the project will operate

Project plan

A project plan should include the following elements:

A project charter-this is a document that demonstrates management support for the project, authorizes the manger to lead the project, and allocate resources as required.

A calendar of activities

A time schedule

A responsibility matrix

A project plan budget

Major milestones with target dates

A risk management strategy

Project management principles

Good project management principles should have the following fundamental qualities.

Should express the basic concept or idea

Be universally applicable if a successful project result is to be achieved

Be capable of straight forward expression in one or two sentences

Should be self –evident to project management personnel with considerable experience of practical project work

Provide the basis for research, practical testing as to value and the development of supporting practices

Project organization and people

From, http://www.advstr.com. Advanced strategies, Inc.

Project Organization is the process of configuring a project’s resources into an effective arrangement to execute the project plan. Disorganization can account for more than 20% of the cost of most efforts. While organization is less important for smaller projects, as projects become larger and more complicated an optimal and flexible organization becomes critical for success.

Some of the factors which are driving the importance of correct organization in today’s environment are:

The shortage of IT personnel

Other constrained resources

People and other resources existing at multiple distributed locations

People and other resources working on multiple projects simultaneously

Ever tightening time deadlines

 

The objective of this stage is to select and prepare the people, whose involvement will be necessary for the project to succeed. Once the objectives of the project have been identified and a work breakdown structure developed for how to meet these objectives, it is necessary to plan for the people involvement on the project.

An important step in this planning is to identify the required roles and responsibilities. This methodology provides a standard set of roles and responsibilities for a project and it is necessary to review this list and customize it for the particular project.

Once the roles, responsibilities, and time requirements for each activity are defined, it is possible to assign individuals to perform the activities.  It will often be necessary to assign individuals to the projects that do not have all the skills required to perform their roles.  Therefore, it is necessary to identify what additional training these individuals require.

Individuals then need to be made available for their involvement on the project. Identify key personnel, recruit the project board, recruit stage manager, recruit project coordinators, recruit key stakeholders, recruit stage teams, recruit key resources, determine training requirements, create project organization chart, and review project organization.

Using the Project Assignment Worksheet, allocate the identified personnel to one or more roles.

Ensure all key individuals are assigned an appropriate role, but don’t overwhelm the project with too many people.

Produce a Project Organization Chart defining reporting and communication lines between all parties involved in the project.

Conduct a product review of the Project Organization to ensure that the proposed organization reflects all participants needed to achieve the project objective.

Project management processes and procedures

According to Allan Chapman on the website (www.businessballs.com), the following are the project management processes:

Agree precise specification for the project -Often called the project ‘terms of reference’, this is the stage to agree special conditions or exceptions with those in authority. Once you’ve published the terms of reference you have created a very firm set of expectations by which you will be judged. So if you have any concerns, or want to renegotiate, now’s the time to do it.

Plan the project – time, team, activities, resources, and financials – using suitable project management tools. Where possible (and certainly where necessary) involve your team in the planning. A useful tip is to work backwards from the end aim, identifying all the things that need to be put in place and done, in reverse order. Additionally, from the bare beginnings of the project, use brainstorming (noting ideas and points at random – typically with a project team), to help gather points and issues and to explore innovations and ideas.

Communicate the project plan to your project team – and to any other interested people and groups. This serves two purposes: it informs people what’s happening, and it obtains essential support, agreement and commitment. If your project is complex and involves a team, then you should involve the team in the planning process to maximize buy-in, ownership, and thereby accountability.

Agree and delegate project actions. Using proper delegation methods is vital for successful project management involving teams. When delegated tasks fail this is typically because they have not been explained clearly, agreed with the other person, or supported and checked while in progress. Manage and motivate – inform, encourage, and enable the project team.

Check, measure, monitor, review project progress – adjust project plans, and inform the project team and others.

Complete project – review and report on project performance; give praise and thanks to the project team.

Project follow-up – train, support, measure and report results and benefits

Project Control Procedures

Setting up Project administration-Create an electronic file structure to consistently maintain the administration of plans, progress, status reports, change control and issue management.

Establish Quality Control Procedure-Determine the mechanisms to be used to ensure the quality of products produced during the project.

Establish Progress Control Procedures-Set up the infrastructure to facilitate:

Capture of actual effort and re-estimated effort to complete

Weekly status meetings to discuss achievements, forthcoming work, and issues

Production of weekly status reports

Establish Project Control Factors-Determine the project control factors. It is important to agree in advance with the project board the “elasticity” of the project, so that the suitable controls are applied in response to deviations from the plan.

Establish Change Control Procedures-Identify the need for change control on the project. A change request may require rework to both completed products and those under development, as well as future tasks.  If it is not controlled then it will impact the project schedule and costs, and quality of the final product.

Establish Issue Resolution Procedure-Create the issue log.

Review Project Control Procedures-Conduct a review to ensure that the standard project controls are in place.

Conclusion

It is clear that every stage in a project is vital in order to not only meet the set objectives but answer questions that arise as well as hiving good strategies to handle any risks that arise in the course of the project. Quality of the project is a key issue too since to deliver the best, all begins with the initial plan. It is important to adopt project portfolio management (PPM) as a means of selecting the right projects and then using project management techniques as the means for delivering the outcomes in the form of benefits to the performing private or not-for-profit organization.

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